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Board Games by Elizabeth Hargrave

I am a board game designer inspired by a love of nature and a desire to play games that break away from tried-and-true themes. My first game, Wingspan, won the 2019 Kennerspiel des Jahres. You can use the links above to find more information on my games, interviews I've done, and info on other women who design board games.

When I'm not gaming, you'll often find me hiking, birding, or collecting mushrooms in and around Washington, DC. I have also had a 20+ year career in health policy, helping improve the US government programs that serve elderly and low-income people.

You can follow me on Twitter at @elizhargrave.

Wingspan board game
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Rank: 4
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Wingspan: European Expansion board game
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Rank: 476
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Tussie Mussie board game
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Rank: 838
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Mariposas board game
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Trending: 104
Wingspan: Swift-Start Promo Pack board game
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Wingspan: Oceania Expansion board game
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Bought #Patchwork for my mother for her birthday, taught it to her and promptly lost. She likes certain games and really doesn't like others so it's always nerve wracking bringing something to the table. Apart from only playing at 2 I still think it is one of the very best gateway games in existence.

Got in a four player game of #Mariposas. I was very concerned this game would be too light but we ordered it to support Elizabeth Hargrave. I was pleasantly surprised, action selection isn't a mechanism I particularly love, I feel like the only person on earth who thinks #Concordia is just an ok game, but this game surprised me. It is far from a heavy game but it does have a really cool decision space between trying to achieve goals, trying to collect sets for special abilities and trying to set yourself up to be able to make it back to the bottom of the board at the end of the game. It doesn't share much with #Wingspan but I do think it exists in a similar space of a game and theme that is appealing to non gamers and accessible but with interesting enough decisions for a heavier gamer. I was really pleasantly surprised by this one.

Played a two player game of #Everdell which is my wife's favorite, I like tableau builders but the mechanic in this game of going from feeling like you just don't have enough workers/actions to do anything to having a full city and resources and event cards etc is as good as any game, the snowball in this one when cards start comboing each other is great. Still looking for a house rule that better deals with the deck bloat and number of repeat cards but supposedly that will be addressed in the next expansion. It isn't my favorite game but one I always enjoy.

Played another two player game of #Pendulum on the advanced sides of the board. I really appreciate how unique this game is and what a puzzle it can be but, in my opinion, a change of pace from the typical decision making process I go through in a game. I really like this one as something different, still feeling out overall opinion on it. My big suprise has been that instead of the assymetric players giving some type of powerful advantage I find they all do a great job of disadvantaging different engine building methods and make you really puzzle around them. I really enjoyed that but do wonder if with more plays there will become a more prescribed way to play with each one and force a lot more intentional blocking amongst players as part of game strategy. 

Got in a first play of #Alma Mater which my wife was adament we get, she's a writer and wanted the book pieces even if the game didn't live up to its promise. I was concerned this would be a game that just wasn't particularly good at 2. While I still think it will shine at 3 the "dummy" player and deck were about as easy as it could get and made it an enjoyable game. The game worked much harder to be thematic than I expected and I really enjoyed every aspect of it but the research track, though i think that was my fault for not realizing that was something I'd want to mitigate with student pieces (they provide different engine building bonuses in the income phase of the game). The game has a variable market and real scarcity for both money and certain books and having a track that you need to move up to increase the value of your type of book but also being a MAJOR part of end game scoring that uses escalating amounts of already tight resources that allow you to perform the other actions in the game felt like an obstacle for the sake of an obstacle. I do think if you know this going in you can make decisions in the early game that make it less of an issue. 

We were able to see family and so played multiple games of #Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale and #Bang!: The Dice Game at 8 players. I am constantly looking for a game that is both accessible and has a great decision space at 8 players. Suggestions are always welcome!

Finally got in my first two plays of #Paladins of the West Kingdom. I haven't played #Architects of the West Kingdom but have played #Raiders of the North Sea and had heard so many good things about Paladins and was able to get a ding and dent copy and snatched it up. To me the decision space and game dynamics felt like a weird combination between #Orléans (colored worker spaces, workshops acting like tech tiles) and the track synergies of #Tapestry but a game I enjoy, so far, better than both. I had very little doubt this would be a game I would really enjoy but was surprised at how much. 

here's a Twitter post from Elizabeth Hargrave that is super interesting, and may provide some ideads if BGA decides to have awards: https://twitter.com/elizhargrave/status/1257999669852061699

It's taking all my willpower to not reply to "direct popular voting for awards is profoundly broken" when I see it. I'll just get it off my chest once: you know Wingspan swept most juried awards too, right? The problem is not popular voting, it's badly-defined categories. 1/?

There is no consensus on what a "strategy" game is. Some people basically use it to mean "not mass market" or "more meaningful decisions than Candyland." Some people mean "weight over 3." 2/

Ditto on "family" game. People don't agree on what this means. A game I CAN play with my family? Plus the theme is appropriate and engaging for kids? Or "this is so light I would ONLY play it with kids?" (Which, also, varies by person) 3/

What does it mean to be a card game, and why do we care? Are Medium and Just One card games? Is Wingspan? Is it meaningful to single out Tussie Mussie and Point Salad as CARD games, or is it that they're light weight, short play time, inexpensive, small, etc? 4/

What does it mean to be "innovative"? Does it have to be a new mechanic? Can it be theme? Can it be busting the hegemony? This is one where I might agree "expert" opinion could be more helpful than crowdsourcing nominations. But I'm not sure experts would agree either. 5/

And I hate "thematic" as the new term for games with lots of narrative and output randomness, because it too feels unclear. It actually kinda mystifies me how that wasn't also "misused" by Wingspan fans, while they were at it, because Wingspan surely stands out for its THEME. 6/

If I were queen at @BoardGameGeek I'd look for ways to create meaningful, automated, mutually-exclusive categories that wouldn't require a jury to kill themselves defining which game is eligible for which categories. 7/

For example I think weight is what most people mean by "family" and "strategy". And every game has a weight rating! So why not:

  • Light games (<1.5)
  • Mid-weight games (1.5-3)
  • Heavy games (>3)

(This is basically what @theATTAs did IIRC) Can you think of others? 8/

But I'm not queen, and I know it's a lot of work to make something like the Golden Geeks happen, and a lot less work to complain about them on Twitter. And I am truly grateful for all the Wingspan love, in whatever imperfect categories people want to express it in. 9/9

Here's an image I put together to promote this post. It features many of the games created by those highlighted in this link (by Elizabeth Hargrave, designer of #Wingspan)https://www.elizhargrave.com/black-voices-in-board-games.


Good luck with the new hobby! Elizabeth Hargrave lives about 30 min from me. I’m going to have to find out if her group needs another play tester.